Nodding Greenhood by Alison Cole

1st July 2022

We were watching one of our favourite gardening programs the other week, and all of a sudden we saw that they were talking about the Nodding Greenhood Orchid. We were so excited, because we knew that we were about to write about Alison Cole’s stunning stumpwork pincushion from The Design Collective | Pincushions, which featured this delicate flower.

It was wonderful to see the actual flower and to learn all about it, then to compare it to Alison’s creation. It made us realise just how breathtaking this project really is.

The Nodding Greenhood Orchid is a little flower also known as the Parrot’s Beak Orchid. It is native to south-eastern Australia and can be found in moist, protected forest environments. The name for this plant comes from the fact that the flowers seem to ‘nod’ or lean forwards. When flowering, you see a crowd of straight, shining green stalks growing up to 30cm (12”) tall, with a distinctive curved flower on the top in a similar, beautiful green, often with orange or brown colouration at the very tip.

Alison was inspired to create this delicate pincushion by spotting these flowers in amongst a mass of other wildflowers in her backyard in Victoria, Australia

She spent many hours drawing them and carefully observing all of the details, then sat down to work out how she could recreate them in thread. 

She thought that the hardest part would be the actual hood, but she managed to work that out the first time. In fact, the hardest part to design turned out to be the little petals at the sides, which Alison attempted several times before she was satisfied. 

Unfortunately, by the time she’d worked it out, the actual Nodding Greenhoods in her garden had finished flowering.

She had to rely on photographs and sketches to get the project finished or wait until the following year!

The pincushion is seated in a round, wooden base and the three little orchids grow out of a wonderful ground covered in different types of moss. Alison has created this exquisitely using various stitches and fibres, so it looks exactly like a lush piece of ground.

This is the part where you would store your pins – this project is a pincushion after all – while your perfect nodding greenhoods watch carefully over them from around the side.

Three-dimensional stumpwork is wonderfully satisfying to do. Each tiny piece is stitched with care, but it is only when you construct the whole and see it stand up perfectly that you really get the effect. Alison has even added to the realism by stitching some dry leaves and twigs out of which the orchids are growing. Each element has been chosen to add to the realism and the ultimate satisfaction of this stunning pincushion.

We have heard a lot of people say that this project is just so exquisite, it almost seems a shame to put pins in it. However, it has been designed for you to do just that. It is certainly a pincushion like no other and one that you should be exceptionally proud. It is like capturing a tiny piece of southern Australian flora and placing it in a stand for you to use and admire.

Make Your Own Nodding Greenhood

Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions

Nodding Greenhood by Alison Cole is an Australian bushland scene brought to life with a stumpwork study of native orchids on a wooden base.

Printed Books

The Design Collective – Pincushions

Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit

The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for Nodding Greenhood includes everything* you need to re-create this Australian bushland scene: Fabric (unprinted), wires, mount card, wooden pincushion base, embroidery threads, and needles.


Nodding Greenhood – TDCP Kit

*Please Note: To cater for flexibility of purchase, instructions are not included with our kits. For step-by-step directions on how to create this project, please refer to the book.

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